Going to college used to be a nearly sure way of getting a steady job. But as many recent graduates will attest, this is no longer the case. However, there are hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs that don't require a degree. 24/7 Wall St. has identified the ten highest-paying jobs that only require a high school education.
In order to identify the kinds of positions high school graduates without college degrees may want to consider, 24/7 Wall St. examined the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupation Employment Statistics database. The government report, which provides the salaries and number of workers in every major job category in the United States, also provides information on salary and those job positions that do not necessarily require a bachelor's degree. The results where then sorted by wage, in order to identify the ten jobs that have the highest median annual salary. Along with salary, we also show how much these jobs are expected to grow over the next 10-15 years, and which states have the highest concentration of these positions.
Our analysis indicates college education is not the only route to a high-paying job. Rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on higher education, high school graduates can look to these high-paying sectors that are going to be adding thousands of new jobs over the next few years.
These are the ten highest-paying jobs that you can get with a high school degree.
- Median Annual Income: $64,180
- High-End Annual Income: $117,310
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 29,280
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 38,800
- Increase by 2018: +37%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Louisiana, Hawaii, Alaska
Life on a commercial ship can involve long hours of isolation or dangerous conditions, which means the pay is significantly better than most blue-collar jobs. In order to be a sailor on a merchant vessel, one can either enroll in a marine academy, or sign on as a deckhand. The latter option has no prerequisites and only requires a few days of basic training. Deckhands make a median annual wage of just under $35,000. After a sailor has gained a few years of experience, crewmen are in line for promotion to deck officers or assistant engineer, then finally to engineer, mate or captain. According to the BLS, "excellent job opportunities are expected as demand for people working in the shipping industry, particularly officers, is expected to be greater than the number of people wishing to enter these occupations."
- Median Annual Income: $66,960
- High-End Annual Income: $116,070
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 6,200
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 6,900
- Increase by 2018: +12%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma
While a high school degree is often the only formal education you need to become a gaming manager at a casino, it's not exactly an easy job to get, compared to some of the other occupations on the list. First, because of the scarcity of casinos, there are only 6,900 jobs in the entire country. In addition, becoming a manager at a gaming venue usually involves working one's way up from the very bottom as a dealer, which is, according to the BLS, one of the worst-paying jobs in the country. Eventually, however, experience and seniority can result in promotion, and a dealer can move from having one of the lowest-paying jobs in the U.S. to making over $110,000 a year.
8. Detectives & Criminal Investigators
- Median Annual Income: $68,820
- High-End Annual Income: $119,320
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 110,640
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 130,900
- Increase by 2018: +18%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: New Mexico, Arizona, Texas
A high school diploma is usually all one needs to become a detective for a city, state or the federal government. Detectives, as well as police officers, are subjected to "rigorous personal and physical qualifications." Very rarely do these qualifications extend to a bachelor's degree. Applicants can be selected as detectives as soon as they join the force, or they can earn the position after a time as an officer. Detectives have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injury and illness. Because of the stressful and dangerous nature of the job, the annual median wage of a detective or criminal investigator is nearly $70,000 each year. As long as the population continues to grow, there will always be new positions for public defenders. The number of detectives in the country is expected to grow by 20,000 by 2018.
- Median Annual Income: $70,910
- High-End Annual Income: $101,390
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 20,430
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 27,100
- Increase by 2018: +32%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Maryland, Hawaii, New York
According to the BLS, despite their title, most installers work not only on elevators, but also on "escalators, chairlifts, dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and similar equipment." Working as installers can be difficult, as they can often spend hours in a cramped space or hanging in a service shaft. Consequently, the rate of work-related injury for the occupation is substantially higher than the national average. In order to be hired, a potential technician needs to enroll in an apprenticeship program, which includes training on the job, as well as instruction in a classroom. Because of the work conditions and the level of testing and certification required, installers make a median annual income of more than $70,000, with the upper 10% making more than $100,000.
6. Web Developers
- Median Annual Income: $75,650
- High-End Annual Income: $119,940
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 961,000
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 1,247,800
- Increase by 2018: +30%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Virginia, District of Colombia, Maryland
While most web developers are now required to have a bachelor's or associate degree, certification can be enough to get a job at a major company. Start-ups have been known to hire support specialists, and with substantial experience, developers can be hired right out of high school. With experience as a support specialist and additional certification, these workers can advance to administrative positions. This can involve managing a network, designing and building a company website, and maintaining the company's web security. According to the BLS, "More of these workers will be needed to accommodate the increasing amount of data sent over the Internet, as well as the growing number of Internet users. In addition, as the number of services provided over the Internet expands, Web administrators and developers will continue to see employment increases." The number of web developer positions is expected to rise by as much as 30% by 2018.
- Median Annual Income: $75,650
- High-End Annual Income: $119,940
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 5,080
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 6,000
- Increase by 2018: +17%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: New York, Florida, Massachusetts
Because of the technical nature of maintaining and monitoring a nuclear power plant, college graduates do have an advantage in making a senior position. However, this is not mandatory, and high school graduates can be accepted into a position. Most of the training occurs on-the-job and in classrooms provided by the plant. In order to keep their positions, operators must pass random drug and alcohol screenings, a medical examination, maintain a license, and take regular refresher courses. According to the BLS, "Overall employment of power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers is projected to experience little or no change, but job opportunities are expected to be excellent because of the large number of retiring workers who must be replaced, an increased demand for energy, and recent legislation that paves the way for a number of new plants."
- Median Annual Income: $78,260
- High-End Annual Income: $123,630
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 102,200
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 105,200
- Increase by 2018: +2.9%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: New York, Rhode Island, Arizona
According to the BLS, "Most police and detectives learn much of what they need to know on the job, often in their agency's training academy." This experience is the training required to eventually make the upper brass at a department. After six months to three years, depending on the location and size of the department, police officers are subject to promotion. They can then, based on performance and a written exam, move up to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, or even chief of the department. Chiefs and other upper brass make a median wage of $78,260 per year, with the top 10% earning a median of $123,630.
3. Construction Managers
- Median Annual Income: $83,860
- High-End Annual Income: $150,250
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 551,100
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 645,800
- Increase by 2018: +17%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Alaska, Texas, Maryland
Construction managers oversee a team of workers on a project and are responsible for scheduling, coordination and hiring of contractors. While some companies are starting to require bachelor's degrees, this is by no means mandatory. Any construction worker with significant experience and skill has the potential to make manager after gaining some additional classroom experience. Managers earn a median annual income of more than $80,000, with those overseeing high profile projects earning over $150,000.
2. Software Developers
- Median Annual Income: $87,970
- High-End Annual Income: $133,110
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 499,280
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 514,800
- Increase by 2018: +17%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Washington, Colorado, Virginia
These days, most major employers are looking for software developers with at least a bachelor's degree and an array of computer skills. However, some companies with a large number of developers will also hire people with a certificate and a great deal of experience. Software developers, or "applications developers" build computer programs for businesses and consumers, and need to have thorough knowledge of computer programming." This knowledge can be gained through night classes or an online course. Software developers generally make more than any other programmer. The median annual income is $87,970, with the upper range making more than $130,000. Like web developers, and most of programming jobs, the number of software developers is expected to increase substantially over the next ten years.
1. Commercial Airline Pilot
- Median Annual Income: $103,210
- High-End Annual Income: $139,330
- No. of Jobs in U.S.: 68,580
- No. of Jobs by 2018: 83,300
- Increase by 2018: +21%
- Highest Concentration of Jobs: Alaska, Kentucky, Arizona
Former Air Force and Navy pilots have traditionally had the fast track to a commercial license because of the flight time and experience they'd gained. That holds true today, and most major airlines also require some college education from their pilots. However, there are plenty of smaller companies that will take any individual with enough logged flight time and aircraft knowledge. Because of the long hours logged, the constant vigilance required, and the substantial time away from home, pilots make a median income of more than $100,000. The number of pilots is expected to increase by more than 20% in the next 17 years, well more than the national average.
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